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Press Release – 16 June 2009

Reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy speech

Statement by Sam Salcman, Acting President, Zionist Council of Victoria

Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, which is welcomed by the Zionist Council of Victoria is both fair and balanced. Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly wants a two state solution that really works to bring peace and stability. He reiterated the deep-rooted cultural and historical and passionate commitment to peace of the Israeli people and himself personally.

In the context of the ongoing debate it is too often forgotten that there is nothing particularly new in his government’s position as acceptance of a partition of the British mandate into two states dates back as far as 1922 and was reiterated in 1936 and 1947.  Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Palestinian statehood has been offered by Israeli leaders in 1993, 2000 and 2008.

PM Netanyahu outlined that the security of Israel is paramount as he highlighted the recent history of Israel giving up land without receiving peace in return to stress that Israel needs security guarantees in advance for a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, Israel’s experience in making offers and often painful concessions such as in Camp David in 2000 and by unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005 have been met with violence and strident rejectionism such as the launch of the bloody second Intifada in 2000 and the use of Gaza as a launching pad for attacks on Israel and murder of Israeli citizens.

Importantly Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that there would be no new settlements or land for existing settlements, but defended the rights of Israelis to live normal lives.

The Zionist Council is delighted that the Prime Minister corrected the erroneous suggestion made by President Obama that Israel’s re-establishment as the homeland for the Jewish people was an outcome of the living nightmare of the Holocaust.  Whilst there is no doubting that the establishment of the State was given renewed energy by that devastation there is equally no doubt that the connection of the Jewish people to the Land is religious, historical and continuing since time immemorial.

Sam Salcman
Acting President
Zionist Council of Victoria
The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website